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Title: Soil biological studies in contrasting types of vegetation in central Amazonian rain forests
Author(s): Luizao, Regina C.C.
Issue Date: 1994
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: Studies were carried out in a lowland evergreen rain forest (LERF), on an ultisol, in the 'Reserva da Campina', 45 km north of Manaus, and in two facies of the highly distinct formation called heath forest, on spodosols. The spodosols had a layer of mor humus of thickness varying from nil in some parts in the smaller facies of heath forest (SHF) to 35 cm in the taller facies (THF). The overall aim was to investigate the forest soil biota and its role in nutrient turnover by comparing the SHF, THF and LERF. Microbial biomass, soil respiration and nitrogen transformation rates were measured in the three forest types in both wet and dry seasons. Field and laboratory fertilization experiments were made to investigate potential limiting nutrients for microorganisms and plants. The role of fine roots in decomposition and litter animal colonization was assessed in litter bag studies. SHF soils have a small microbial population with no net nitrification in any season. THF soils showed a variable microbial population adapted to high acidity, which immobilises nitrogen during the wet season, but which allows a net release during the dry season. LERF showed the most diverse population which causes mineralization and nitrification in both seasons. A bioassay with nutrient addition showed that the low pH, and nitrogen and sulphur supply were likely to be limiting nitrogen dynamics in all forest types, but especially in THF and LERF. The ingrowth bags showed that despite the lower values of fine root growth in the SHF (particularly when the white sand of the spodosol was used as the substrate), the roots showed in all plots an increased production with added calcium as carbonate or sulphate. In the decomposition bioassay to evaluate the role of roots in the nutrient turnover it was shown that in all forest types there was no effect of roots on the mass loss of Clitoria leaves but there was a significant effect on concentrations of some nutrients. In general, roots contributed to the accumulation of aluminium and iron and to a faster release and uptake of calcium, magnesium and zinc. A survey of the mycorrhizal associations in all forest types showed that both VAM and ECM fungi with some unknown VAM fungal species are common. VAM and ECM adaptation to low pH and high phenolic compounds in the soils may be important in the maintenance of these ecosystems.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: School of Natural Sciences
Department of Biological and Molecular Sciences

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